With help and guidance from school staff, Little Free Library stewards used the $1,000 grant to purchase hundreds of Spanish-language books in kindergarten through fifth-grade reading levels. They include fiction, nonfiction, popular series, and classics.
Located in the school’s Reading Garden, the Little Free Library is a weatherproof wooden box that holds free books. Because it is always open, students can always find books to read, even when school is closed.
The BJWC donation is critical to the Sunny Hill Little Free Library’s mission to make quality literature accessible to all students, according to steward Annmarie Crowley of Barrington.
“The community has been incredibly generous with donations of gently used children’s books, but the English learners at Sunny Hill need literature, too,” she explained. “The BJWC grant helps fill that need and ensure that all children who open the little free library door will find something to delight them.“
The BJWC books have stickers inside thanking the organization for their donation. Crowley noted that there are also stickers on book covers, to remind students to return the books to the Little Free Library.
“Our Spanish language books are a precious commodity, so it’s important they circulate for many children to enjoy.“
Spanish language books play an important role in students’ development, according to Lori Ford, CUSD220 enrichment instruction specialist. "Research shows that children who read or are read to in their native language are better able to learn a second language in the future,” she said.
“Solidifying literacy skills in their native language first makes all the difference in their cognitive development."
According to the Illinois State Report Card, about 47 percent of Sunny Hill Students are English learners.
Since 2012, the Sunny Hill Little Free Library has invited students to “Take a Book, Leave a Book.” It was installed and is managed by volunteer stewards, in cooperation with Ford and other staff members. Twice weekly, these volunteers rotate a large stock of donated children’s literature in English and in Spanish to keep the selection fresh and exciting for young readers.